South Tahoe Middle School’s Timberwolves in Action club holding fundraiser to benefit Chinese orphanage |

South Tahoe Middle School’s Timberwolves in Action club holding fundraiser to benefit Chinese orphanage

Anthony Gentile
Students from the South Tahoe Middle School club Timberwolves in Action are hosting a fundraiser to benefit Urumchi Orphanage in China this Saturday, March 5, at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

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What: Timberwolves in Action fundraiser

When: Saturday, Feb. 26, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena

Tickets: $5 for middle school students and younger, $7 for adults, $20 for families

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Timberwolves in Action started with the aim to spread kindness around the South Tahoe Middle School campus. The STMS student organization focused on giving back now has a global reach.

“They’re all very strong, motivating, giving, amazing kids,” said club advisor Cindy Cowen, a teacher at the middle school. “They’re amazing kids and they humble me.”

Timberwolves in Action is hosting a fundraiser to benefit the Urumchi Orphanage in Urumchi, China, this Saturday, March 5, at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena. The event will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, and feature skating, silent auctions, a bake sale and Chinese craft jewelry for sale.

“It helps a lot of kids who really need help,” said seventh-grader Maddy Monroe, one of the club’s leaders. “A lot of people don’t know about or don’t understand why they need money. They’re in an orphanage and most of them are given up because they’re girls, they have disabilities, they don’t look perfect or the family can’t afford them.”

Tickets are $5 for middle school students and younger, $7 for adults and $20 for families, and donations will also be accepted — proceeds will go toward basic necessities at the orphanage. The club’s students created, planned and will carry out the fundraiser completely, with Saturday’s event the culmination of a yearlong project.

“It was a lot of work — we all worked together and did different parts,” Monroe said. “We’ve been working hard on it for a long time, and it’s really exciting to finally get to do it.”

The fundraiser allows members of Timberwolves in Action to attend WE Day California on April 7 in Los Angeles, an international service club event that recognizes schools that make an impact beyond their communities. The club was required to complete both a local an international project to earn an invitation to the event.

“To go and see all these other kids that have done so much to help, learn about their stories, and help people see how much one person can change the world — I’m really looking forward to it,” Monroe said.

When selecting its international project, Timberwolves in Action ultimately chose one with a close connection to one of its members. Monroe’s sister, Sally, was adopted from the same Chinese orphanage the fundraiser will benefit — at 2 days old, she was abandoned at military base before being taken in.

“When she was 2 years old, me and my mom, dad and brother flew out there and got her,” Monroe said. “A lot of people know that there are orphans in China, but they don’t understand why or exactly how much help they need.”

Locally, members of the Timberwolves in Action visit Barton Memorial Hospital’s Skilled Nursing Facility multiple times per week. During the visits, the students read to the patients, interact and even engage in friendly games of bingo.

Another local project the club has in the works is “blessing bags” filled with essential items that will be distributed at the South Lake Tahoe Warm Room. And that goes along with students continuing a variety of good deeds around the middle school campus.

“It was a ball that kept rolling,” Cowen said

Timberwolves in Action had just more than 10 students when it started at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. It began with random acts of kindness at the school, including writing cards to students and teachers, hug days and sticky bombs — posting kindhearted sticky notes around campus and giving them to students.

“We went from trying to help our school to sending money halfway across the world to kids that really need it,” Monroe said. “That’s really cool.”

The club meets daily during lunch and now has almost five times as many members. It ultimately led to the creation of a second club headed by teacher Andrew Losk.

“It’s amazing,” Monroe said. “We all have a personal connection to each other — and seeing so many people wanting to help is really awesome.”

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